Meal Prep Tips For Beginners
Get in the Game
One of the things I hear most from people about why they don’t meal prep is because they just don’t know where to start. While the idea of meal prep is very appealing, they seem overwhelmed by the idea of preparing so much food at once. I totally get that. When you’re first starting out, meal prep can seem very intimidating. However, it really is not as complex as it may sound. This post is designed to help you get started on a meal prep if you’ve never done one before or if you’re just looking to improve your meal prep game.
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The biggest tip I can give you for meal prep is just to get started. Don’t think about it too much, just do it! While these tips are designed to help you get started, you by no means have to follow them all in order to have meal prep success. So, without further ado…. here are my meal prep tips for beginners!
THE Short List of Meal Prep Tips for Beginners
- Have a plan- look in your fridge/pantry and see what needs to be used. Let these items guide your menu. For example, if I have some fresh produce that needs to be used, these are the items that are used up first. Once you’ve planned enough meals to use up those items, you’re free to use anything you’d like. If I don’t start by making my menu, I almost always end up having to stop everything to go to the store and purchase something. What a waste of time!
- Have the tools you need- This is SO important. I can’t TELL you how many times I’ve started my meal prep inadequately prepared and had to stop everything to wash something or go buy plastic baggies. What a drag! Having all your tools ready is so essential If you are a macro counter you will need a good food scale. Everyone needs a good set of meal prep containers – I purchased THESE because they come with a meal prep e-book. I also use THESE silicone baking molds because they help keep moist food from dry food, plus they’re great for baking, of course. Those are the basic items that help keep my meal prep organized and running smoothly.
- Start small. I totally get being overwhelmed by doing a huge weekly meal prep. Instead, why not start small? Instead of doing food for an entire week, why not just make a double batch of your favorite recipe and put the leftovers. Or, just prep the basics. Each Sunday, whether or not I do a big meal prep, I do at least cook a few key things: protein and grains. I will put several pounds of chicken in my crock pot Smart Pot and forget about it! I also cook up a big batch of brown rice or quinoa, along with a dozen or so hard boiled eggs. That way, I have the basis for lots of healthy meals without having to do an entire meal prep session.
- Know yourself – I am still learning in this department. Don’t prep five days of the same meal if you know in your heart that by day three you’re going to be sick of it or if it won’t be fresh by day five. I am so guilty of this! To save time, I just make five servings of chicken and rice and sure enough when I do this, I end up eating in the cafeteria by Thursday because I’m so sick of it. So instead, I have started making enough for a few days and then doing a mini meal prep later in the week to make creative salads for the rest of the week.
- Use your freezer! I really got into freezer cooking while I was pregnant, but that is a post for another day. What I will say about it is… we all know after 3-4 days your food is not fresh like it was on day one. Instead of throwing out your hard work, prep meals that freeze well! Beans, grains, pastas, proteins – all of these freeze really well. I pretty much ALWAYS have at least one or two meals in my freezer from my meal prep sessions. Think of it as making your own version of frozen TV dinners, only way better for you and your budget! Just remember that not everything keeps well in the freezer.
- Split it up- again, if you are intimidated by the thought of doing a huge meal prep, just split it up! Here’s an example. On Sunday night I make my protein. On Monday nights when I get home, I make a big batch of rice and steamed veggies to go with my protein. Then, on Tuesday, I might boil eggs or make a batch of homemade trail mix to last the rest of the week. By splitting it up, I can minimize my time in the kitchen each day but not have to do a huge weekly meal prep. I can instead spend just 15 or so minutes working on one mini-meal prep project each day.
- Trial and error – you will learn what works and what doesn’t work as you do more and more meal prep sessions. I have been doing some form of weekly meal prep for roughly two years now. I am here to tell you that it is worth the time I spend working on it each week.
So there you have it! My short list of meal prep tips for beginners. Are there any tips you’d like to add? Do you meal prep? Please let me know by commenting below.
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